Costa Rican Hidden Gem: Orosi
Orosi is one of my absolute favorite towns in Costa Rica! It's one of the least touristy areas with a plethora of amazing things to do! I've been twice, both times with my friend Julia. The first time we stayed in Orosi for a few nights at the end of our 2 month Central America backpacking trip. The second time we took a day trip out of San Jose. Here are some tips and favorite spots in the Orosi valley/ surrounding areas!
Getting there: Transportation into Orosi is fairly easy! For our first trip, we booked a shared shuttle from San Jose directly to our hotel. The second time, we took an Uber directly to the hot springs we were visiting for the day. Both times were fairly inexpensive, although the Uber was certainly cheaper. With the Uber, we also got a bit more of a local experience by riding in a car with a local, talking to him, and listening to the GPS direct us in Spanish. The upside of the shuttle service is that it takes a bit of stress out of the situation.
There is also the option to take a bus, although we personally haven't tried it yet! Definitely the most inexpensive option. It will take you a bit longer to get there. On the plus side you'll get a way more local experience.
Leaving Orosi: On our first stay, we didn't preplan any transportation. We ended up booking a ride through our hotel to the airport, since we wanted to be sure we got to the airport on time. It was pretty expensive, but stress free!
The second time, we had spoken with the people who worked at the hot springs, and set up a ride back with their regular Uber driver.
And of course, there's the option to take the bus!
Where to stay:
Hotel Orosi Lodge
Now, I'm generally a hostel kinda gal. I love cheap, shared accommodations where I can meet fellow travelers. Since I was traveling with a friend, we decided to split a hotel for our last few days in Costa Rica. Their beautiful accommodations only cost about $60 a night. This lodge has a cozy, quaint feel to it. When you walk in, there is reception, a small gift shop, and a cute open air cafe with a nice view.
As soon as we checked in we were handed some deliciously refreshing lemonades that we sipped while being shown to our rooms! Our room felt more like a cozy apartment than a hotel! There were two beds topped with towel animals. The bathroom featured a beautiful shower that supplied hot water. My favorite part was definitely the cute kitchenette, with complimentary coffee! We started each day with a cup in our room. One of my favorite memories in Orosi was drinking coffee on a stool in the kitchenette reminiscing about our trip and talking about life with my friend Julia.
Walking out of the door to our room, there were chairs to sit on as well as a comfy knit hammock, Costa Rican decor and plants galore! It was a perfect place to relax, sip a cup of coffee, read a book, chat with a friend, or write in your travel journal.
The owners and staff were amazing. They were extremely friendly and hospitable. They have a book of things to do in the area, as well as tours you can book with their driver. We were interested in one of the tours, but we wanted to switch it up a bit in order to visit the abandoned Tuberculosis hospital, and they were more than willing to do so! The tour was a bit pricey, but doable, and in my opinion, well worth the money. Their driver was very friendly and amazing. He allowed us to spend as much time as we wanted in each place.
There are also a few hostels in the area. Even though I'm an avid hostel-goer, I know I'll be staying at the Hotel Orosi Lodge if I ever return!
What to do:
Hacienda Orosi Hot Springs
This place is the definition of a hidden gem, tucked away on a dirt road. When we arrived, we were asked what time we would prefer our meals, and then given a small tour. There was a clean, modern changing room and bathrooms with lockers. They provided the locks and towels! The dining and relaxing area was huge and beautiful. There were 5 gorgeous
thermal pools, each a bit hotter than the next. Our favorite featured an infinity ledge. The views from the hot springs were absolutely stunning. We spent most of the day there, and were the only ones there for nearly the entire time. There were less than two hours where a tour group of about six people popped in. We asked one of the workers if it's normally this empty or if we were there on a particularly dead day. He said it was a pretty average day. For their sake, I hope business picks up a bit. But I hope for travelers that the place doesn't become overridden with tourists!
The food was delicious. They served us a snack first. It was fried yucca with a black bean dip. Yummm.
There was complimentary juice and water at all times. Our favorite juice was ??
Lunch was buffet style. Rice, beans, warm tortillas ???
As it started to get a bit later, and we were feeling zen from a day in the thermal pools, they served coffee and tea with some sweets. I have to say, there's nothing like feeling totally relaxed after a day lying in hot springs, sipping a cup of coffee with a stunning view. Pure bliss.
Hands down, one of my favorite places I have ever been to.
This is an abandoned tuberculosis hospital. It's legal and safe to visit, and yet still just as eerie. The creepiest part was definitely the children's ward, complete with children's painted hand prints, and a spooky playground. You can easily wander around the hopsital for hours. We were the only ones there when we visited, and it seemed like not many tourists had heard of it.
Ujarres Church Ruins
These are located and in a pretty park. It seems like not many people know about it or visit, or maybe we just got lucky! The ruins are fairly small, but still just as amazing.
The Dreamers House
This house is art. Literally. It's made entirely of coffee wood.
If I had room in my carry on I totally would have bought one of their amazing pieces!
Alright, so we haven't made it here yet. We may have missed our bus. However, we've heard its beautiful! And, if you can find the bus station, there's a bus that leaves from San Jose and theres also a bus from Orosi.
Walk around town/ local school and museum and stuff
When we stayed in Orosi, we enjoyed taking a walk around town. The volcano and valley views combined with the towns charms is really something else.
Where to eat:
Hotel Orosi Lodge
Pretty Restaurant we didnt get to
This is high on my next time list for Costa Rica!